Thirteen principal investigators from Texas A&M University were awarded more than $400,000 in grants to fund their research by the Mexican Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACYT) in collaboration with the university. All of the projects include a common research goal directed by two principal investigators, one from Texas A&M and one from a higher education institution or research center in Mexico.
The Texas A&M-CONACYT: Collaborative Research Grant Program is designed to support inter-institutional cooperation in science, technology, and scholarship. The program, which was established in 2001, awards researchers supported by both CONACYT and Texas A&M, focusing specifically on topics of mutual importance to Mexico and the United States, and is designed to both advance scientific knowledge as well as lay the groundwork for future funding proposals to external funding agencies.
The program “marks a significant place in the strong history between a Texas university with a commitment to others and a Mexican government body with much of the same goals—improve lives, ensure economic stability, and make a difference for the future. CONACYT is Mexico’s foremost agency for the support of research, both in Mexico and abroad,” according to Texas A&M University’s website.
Researcher Jorge E. Gonzalez, from the Department of Educational Psychology at the College of Education & Human Development, will receive an award for his work on the effects of an intensive science and social shared-reading curriculum for Spanish-speaking children’s oral language development.
For projects focused on the environment, Rusty A. Feagin from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was awarded funding for his new study, entitled, “Can Vegetation Reduce Sand Dune Erosion in the Gulf of Mexico? A Bi-national Research Experiment and Student Exchange.”
Research on how future climate change impacts agroclimate and surface hydrology based on climate cases in Baja California, Mexico, and Texas, developed by Huilin Gao from the Dwight Look College of Engineering, was also awarded funding, along with John R. Giardino in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the College of Geosciences at the Horacio Hernandez UGTO, who is working on vulnerability assessment of surface water and ground water resources in the Guanajuato-San Miguel de Allende region of Mexico.
Within the field of health, Vladislav Yakovlev from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Dwight Look College of Engineering, was awarded a grant for deep-tissue optical stimulation of neural tissue, while Shenyuan Zhang from the Department of Medical Physiology at the College of Medicine (UNAM) developed the project “Role of CRAC (Calcium Release Activated Channels) in Control of Inflammation.” Brandie D. Taylor from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health was awarded for her work on the “Identification of Mycoplasma Genitalium and its Correlates in Mexican Women.”
A preliminary study to detect aflatoxin and fumonisin co-exposure in the Mexican population in the metropolitan area of Monterrey, Mexico by Timothy D. Phillips from the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences at Texas A&M was also awarded funding, along with David G. Riley from the Department of Animal Science at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who is studying the “Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms Associated to Growth, Fertility and First-Calf Survival Traits in Brangus Heifers Managed Under Semi-Arid Extensive Conditions in Southern Sonora.”
In the field of engineering, the “Nanoclusters for the De-sulfurization of Heavy Oils,” developed by Jorge M. Seminario, a researcher in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at the Dwight Look College of Engineering, was one of the winners as well. Partha P. Mukherjee from the Department of Mechanical Engineering received an award for a project on “High-performance Electrode Architecture for Lithium-Air Batteries.”
Special research awards were also granted to support projects that build on existing extramurally funded research activities. This year’s winners were Luis Cisneros- Zevallos from the Department of Horticultural Sciences of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Julio S. Bernal from the Department of Entomology. Dr. Cisneros- Zevallos authored the study “An Alternative Use of Horticultural Crops: Stressed Plants as Biofactories of Health Promoting Compounds Targeting High Value Health Markets for the U.S.-Mexican Trade,” while Bernal developed research on the characterization of resistance to root- and foliage-feeding insects in Maize Breeding Lines, Landraces, and Wild Ancestors.